Sentimental movies on aging are usually a bit predictable, hitting a number of familiar clichés as they tell their story. A 2012 Canadian film, Still Mine paints a moving portrayal of one man’s struggle with government bureaucracy as he attempts to build a new house for his wife before she passes away. Veteran actor James Cromwell turns in a compelling performance as an elderly husband coping with his wife’s increasing dementia and memory problems.
Writer and director Michael McGowan fashions his script around the true story of Craig Morrison (Cromwell) and his loving wife, Irene (Geneviève Bujold). They are real salt-of-the-Earth types, grounded by their huge farm and extended family of seven grown children. Craig is an independent man, even at 87-years-old, preferring to work his own fields and always tinkering on a woodworking project of some kind. Living in scenic St. Martins, New Brunswick, the picturesque community almost feels like a place outside of time.
The Morrison family begins to worry about Irene, an elderly woman with growing lapses in her short-term memory. Craig has been putting off the problem for a while and there is mounting pressure from their children to put her in a nursing home before something happens. New regulations force Craig to drop his hobby of selling the strawberries he has grown himself. He gets the idea of building a small house as a parting gift to Irene and so he can keep a closer eye on her as the elderly couple downsize their life.
Craig jumps into building the house by his own hands, even at his advanced age. That wouldn’t be a problem for the headstrong but capable man, if not for pesky building code regulations that get in his way. Craig grew up building houses in the manner taught to him by his father, which was fine sixty years ago but poses a problem for modern governmental regulations. Still Mine has a fiercely libertarian streak to its story, as Craig has to deal with a meddling building inspector that comes off as petty and dismissive of Craig’s experience.
The movie makes it quite clear that Craig loses himself in the construction work on his new home as a coping mechanism for his wife’s worsening condition. He desperately wants to finish it before she might have to get sent away to a nursing home. She suffers a bad fall and Craig has to move their bedroom to the main floor. The narrative switches between Craig’s battles with the building inspector and his wife’s failing health with ease.
The sentimental story firmly goes ahead in one direction to a fairly predictable conclusion. This is one film where it is more about the journey than the ultimate destination. The loving relationship between Craig and his wife is deeply moving and sure to be a crowd pleaser. Cromwell is largely the reason to seek this film out, the nuanced characterization he breathes into Craig’s story is great stuff. Still Mine touches on a number of issues for the aging with a gentle touch and tone.
Twentieth Century Fox delivers a 1080p presentation that is nothing short of outstanding on Blu-ray. Filmed using ARRI Alexa cameras by cinematographer Brendan Steacy, Still Mine has a picture-perfect quality that feels like a nature video made for videophiles. A number of panoramic landscapes are immaculate in their pristine clarity. The AVC video encode averages a satisfactory 25 Mbps, handling the super-clean video to perfection. It is properly presented in a 1.85:1 widescreen aspect ratio, the intended composition.
Completely unfiltered at the Digital Intermediate stage, the picture produces some of the sharpest, most-detailed resolution possible on Blu-ray. Some of the close-ups are shocking in their depth, revealing micro-details rarely seen from a source not consciously filmed for demo material. The level of clarity might be too revealing when Still Mine broaches the subject of geriatric sexuality. There is not a single flaw or artifact that can be found within the movie’s 103 minutes, this is simply spectacular Hi-Def video carefully handled with technical precision.
It is fair to say that Still Mine saw a home video release on Blu-ray due to its incredible picture quality, this is not usually the type of material that gets released in high-definition these days. Kudos to the filmmaker and Fox for bringing us a demo-quality effort with a different focus than usual.
The sole audio option is a serviceable 5.1 DTS-HD MA soundtrack. Still Mine is a dialogue-driven drama, lacking the opportunity to turn its sound presentation into a bombastic cacophony of music and sound effects. A gentle score fills in the background but most everything is kept to the front soundstage in perfectly intelligible clarity. Some minor Foley work fills out the soundtrack, such as the breeze blowing behind Craig as he builds and the sounds of a truck moving closer. The mix works for the purposes of Still Mine, though a little more presence and ambiance would have been nice.
Optional English SDH and Spanish subtitles are included in a white font.
Aside from an UltraViolet digital copy that redeems in HDX on VUDU, Fox has not included any special features. A number of changing trailers will play before the main menu, depending on the BD-Live servers used at the time of viewing. While this is not an ideal disc loaded with special features, Fox’s inclusion of a digital copy is a nice bonus that merits a couple of stars.
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Click on the images below for full resolution screen captures taken directly from the Blu-ray. Images have not been altered in any way during the process.